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Thursday, February 02, 2006

the new civil libertarians

Chris Bertram has a very good take on the controversy about the Muhammed cartoons It nicely breaks down the hypocrisy involved in this sudden overflow of support for civil liberties. Myself, I am astounded by the sudden enthusiasm for freedom of speech by a crowd that has just been busily arguing that the Executive branch in the U.S. has a perfect right to listen to all our telephone conversations and read all of our email – but it turns out there is one right that is precious, and that is to show funny pics of Muhammed. All very well, too, to condemn those ultra-violent Islamists who murdered Theo Van Gogh. We are so with you, brothers and sisters!

B.. but how about the U.S. Military murder of Tariq Ayoub? Somehow, this topic seems not to launch a thousand impassioned blogs. And certainly the U.S. military, who investigated the U.S. military and found to its satisfaction that the U.S. military was doing a damn fine job, doesn’t figure on anybody’s list of terrorist threats to freedom of the press. Funny, Taras Protsyuk didn’t know that. Neither did Jose Couso.

One does get sick of the under the surface pretence that Muslims everywhere are the horrid murderers of innocent white Christians. Anybody who does the death counts know that the opposite is the case.

So, for those of us who support the provocations of a Theo Van Gogh, I’d suggest going to this site dedicated to getting the U.S. Military to conduct a real investigation, leading to a trial, about the murder of Jose Couso.

This is what Couso’s Mother has to say on that site, in part:

“My son was good at his job. He was no kamikaze, nor was he reckless. That is why he decided to stay in Baghdad; and because he was a careful person, starting on April 7 he stayed inside the Hotel Palestine, which was the headquarters for the international media, as your commanders knew full well.
There you murdered him, in cold blood. There was no fighting, so there is no excuse. But you, Philip Decamp, authorized it; you, Philip Wolford, gave the order, and you, Thomas Gibson, pulled the trigger. And the three of you knew you were killing innocent people, But you did it anyway. Damn you.”

As for Dima Tahboub, wife of Tariq Ayoub, well, what can you expect from a Muslim? A lot of them think their lives are as good as Christian lives. The nerve. Doesn’t understand the least thing about the world.

“Dima Tahboub, wife of the 35-year-old journalist, says she may take legal action, because "The report proves the cold-blooded murder of my husband.""America always claimed it was an accident. But I believe the new revelations prove that claim was false or at least trustworthy," the Daily Mirror reported her as saying. "I will seek legal advice in light of this new information to achieve justice," she added.

Ayyoub died on 8 April 2003, when his office on the west bank of the Tigris river in Baghdad was hit by at least two American missiles as he reported from the roof. That same morning US tanks fired at the Palestine Hotel, which was used by scores of journalists, killing two of them. The offices of Abu Dhabi TV, some 300 metres away from the Al Jazeera office, were also hit that day. Following the attacks the Pentagon said it would never intentionally target journalists.

Ayyoub was born in Kuwait to a Palestinian family who later moved to Jordan as refugees as a result of the Gulf War. Before joining Al Jazeera he worked as a producer for the APTN news agency and wrote for the English language newspaper The Jordan Times. While working as a journalist he was arrested so many times his family said they had lost count, but he was never charged and was always released soon afterwards. He had one daughter, Fatmeh, who was just one-year-old when he died.”
The CPA, when in power in Iraq, showed the might and idealism of the Western Civil liberties standard by paying to put lies in Iraqi newspapers while at the same time raiding and shutting down Muqtada al-Sadr ‘s Al Hawza newspaper because it printed, well, lies. But I am sure the pro-war contingent, who are bleeding profusely at the threats being faced by poor, poor Danish cartoonists, can see that there are two sides of everything, and you can’t exactly have a newspaper criticize an occupying force, can you? That stirs up violence.

Or go to Al Jazeera’s blog, Don’t bomb us. And search for it on Google, too. Give the NSA something to look at.


Brian Miller said...

Good post, roger. Not that I agree with the response of the Muslim world vis a vis the cartoon (I mean, come on, surrounding the office of the EU with armed gunmen demanding yet another "apology" I am too much of a militant agnostic to feel much sympathy for the need to apologize for the "horror" of these tacky, tacky little cartoons. I mean, come on, Islam waws spread at the point of the sword (as was our own flavor of Abrahamic Sky Fairy worship, but...)

BUT, as your post makes so eloquently clear, there are a lot more important things to be getting up in arms over. Including the actions of our soliders, the war crimes of our leadership, etc. Heck, for that matter, I'm annoyed by European moralism because German technology basically manufactured the poison gas Sadaam used to kill hundreds of thousands of Iranians. Not to mention the bloody, oh so moral French and their love for the vile Hussein. Or, on the other side, the weapons given the Iranians by our Sainted Ronnie Raygun. There are so many bloody hands that the blogsphere should be dealing with.

roger said...

Brian, I perhaps should emphasize that publishing funny cartoons of Muhammed should not only be legal, but it is possible that they are really funny. I doubt it -- I haven't seen the cartoons, but the usual European cartoon (a la my acquaintance with French cartoons) is not very good (although Turkish cartoons are -- and they are very scatological).

And, in a way, there is an enlightenment motif that says that people who, say, protect civil liberties in one case might actually learn to protect it in others. So that pro-war, anti-Islamic indignation about the protests might translate, slowly, slowly, into doubts about censorship at all.

But the BS factor here is just too much.

Brian Miller said...

I've seen a few of them online. They are pretty bad (and not very funny). Verging, to be honest, on Propoaganda cartoons of the WWII era (almost Der Sturm (sp?) level bad).

Still...the very idea that NO image of The Prophet can be published without violence is pretty scary to me.

Paul craddick said...


Check your link to Bertram - not working right now.

Paul craddick said...

Having now read the piece, I don't recognize your paraphrase of it: "It nicely breaks down the hypocrisy involved in this sudden overflow of support for civil liberties by a crowd that has just been busily arguing that the Executive branch in the U.S. has a perfect right to listen to all our telephone conversations and read all of our email – but it turns out there is one right that is precious, and that is to show funny pics of Muhammed."

Bertram's proximate target seems to be Norman Geras; I don't recall Norm - a Brit - ever arguing for the aggrandizement of Executive Power in the US. Nor does Bertram take him to task for doing so.

I'm not sure what appeals to you about Bertram's piece, actually.

roger said...

Paul, thanks for pointing out the broken link.

You are right -- I am melding together a couple of arguments of C.B.'s with one of my own. His argument goes from one about private power and the right to free speech to the various positions of Norm Geras vis a vis making fun of Muhammed and Anti-semitism. I made the extension to the controversy over the NSA wiretapping. I should make that clearer.